Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) Salary

There are over 680,000 certified nursing assistants (CNAs) working in nursing homes across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but nearly 24 percent of these said they are looking for another job and another 3 percent said they are thinking about it. This shows that turnover rates in the U.S. can be fairly high and that hospitals, healthcare facilities and long-term care sites may be in constant need of qualified staff. That said, the mean stay for CNAs in nursing homes was 61 months, which is just over five years.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes CNAs within the occupational profile of nursing assistants. According to May 2014 BLS data, nursing assistants earned mean annual wages of $26,250, but annual income typically ranged from $18,790 to $37,160, about $9.03 to $17.39 per hour. The highest paying areas for CNAs in the U.S. included Alaska, Nevada, New York, Connecticut and Washington, D.C., where mean annual wages were all above $30,000. Two of the highest paying metropolitan areas were the New York-White Plains-Wayne area of New York and New Jersey and the greater Chicago-Joliet, Naperville, Illinois area, both which reported mean wages above $25,000 for nursing assistants, according to the BLS.

Are certified nursing assistants in high demand?

The BLS reports that job demand for nursing assistants is expected to grow by 21 percent from 2012 to 2022. This job growth is faster than average and could result in 312,200 new positions becoming available during this time. One factor leading to demand includes more elderly patients in need of care, including those in long-term care sites, such as nursing homes. Another factor is increasing incidence of chronic illnesses in the U.S. that will lead to more need for patient care.

Is there room for advancement?

Job opportunities for nursing assistants will likely be the best for those who have completed an educational program and passed the competency exam within their state, reports the BLS. Passing the state exam allows someone to be called a CNA. Also, opportunities for advancement could be particularly strong for those interested in working in home health care or community-based sites, suggests the BLS. CNAs who seek advanced certification, such as the certification necessary to become a Certified Medication Assistant (CMA), could also find better opportunities for advancement.


  1. Nursing Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes311014.htm
  2. Nursing Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Jan. 8, 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nursing-assistants.htm
  3. National Nursing Home Survey, Center for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nnhs/nursing_assistant_tables_estimates.htm#WorkEnv

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